Thursday, December 22, 2011

The smaller the house, the more beautiful the Xmas light display

I visited the St. Louis neighborhood of Lemay last night.  It sits on the banks of the Mississippi river.  And in St. Louis, that is not generally a good thing for real estate value.  For historical and political reasons, Lemay escaped any kind of serious building code-based uniformity.  The result is beautiful tiny houses, each of them unique.  And their Holiday lights displays are every-bit the house's equal for quirk.  Poorer folks tend to hang on to their light displays to the point that they start to fade and change colors, ... sort of pastelize (sp?).

The house, the house of blue lights.
The home of Charles and Frances Cassaday at 1234 Dammert Ave, 63125.  There are a million Christmas wreaths in the world.  Almost all of them round.   The Cassadays dare to be ovular.

Santa landing by helicopter:

Ferris wheeled bears, precious moments, Elvis in the window and a classic example of the St. Louis Iron Pipe Hand-rail::

340 Rauhut in Lemay, a rental property apparently.  These renters really throw down:

A couple shots of 9453 Gentry.  Beauty in variety.  White light and glossy white picket fence with wreaths and bows:
 Faded blue lights, almost white.  Everybody knows I am partial to blue.  It's more winterish than red and green.  A minimalist approach at the rental property at 962 Dammert Ave.  Watch your step:
Un-raked leaves plus chaotic light placement, colors ... for an effect as beautiful as an abstract painting:
Having nothing to do with Christmas lighting, an apparently year-round display featuring three silhouettes of children running, at 9455 Gentry:

By being unafraid of being tacky, the denizens of Lemay end up being twelve times more tasteful than the lighting displays found on the typical McMansions of West County St. Louis.

Pick out one of these streets and drive for a half-mile around.  Neighbors have obviously influenced other neighbors ... but not in a "keep up with the Joneses" sort of way.  The Luxemburgers* gave up on worrying about that a long time ago.

*original name of Lemay

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Pujols Commentary You Haven't Heard Yet

There are far too many links to the Albert Pujols free agency story to list here, profitably.  Suffice it to say that Pujols is not leaving St. Louis on the best of terms and it might not be his fault.  But it is a shame that the St. Louis Cardinals improbable World Series victory* has to be tainted with a Leaving Controversy.  I see the Cardinals 2012 calendars, with Albert pointing skyward as the January photo, lying unbought at the St. Louis area Samsclubs and I know what's going on.  The sweet taste of victory has soured on the tongue of St. Louisans. It is like Bob Gibson started pitching for the Red Sox in 1968.  Or Ken Boyer bolted to become a Yankee in 1965.  Or, even worse, it is like Stan Musial bolted Eddie Dyer and the Cardinals in 1947 to go on to a solid ten years .. with the Dodgers.

Sutter, Porter, Ozzie, Hendrick, Lou Brock, Curt Flood, ... even Mike Shannon and Nellie Briles ... they were all back with the Cardinals the next year after sipping that World Championship champagne.  Clubs didn't "build for the future" the year after a championship.  They rested on their laurels ... and brought the champions back the next year for at least a victory lap.  Even the 1944 AL champion St. Louis Browns, beaten out by the Cardinals four games to two in the World Series, made only two moves in the off-season (selling backup shortstop Floyd Baker and signing future rookie-of-the year Roy Sievers).

I know that free agency makes everything different now.  But it is still possible to stay with a team.  Somehow, Pujols and the Cardinals should have made that happen,.  For old time's sake, if for nothing else.

* folks, lets face it, that series had EV-RY-thing from Tony LaRussa's Roman soldier/lawyer stoicism to Ron Washington's disco tap-dancing chipmunk cheerleaderism, plus Samuel Jackson-style locker room rants ... and everything on the field too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Does President Obama owe Ron Paul a copyright royalty?

Because it is "from Ron Paul's lips to Barack's ears" in very quick fashion:

"Anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture. And that's not something we do — period,"  - Ron Paul, South Carolina GOP debate, Saturday, November 12, 2011

"They're wrong. And anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture. And that's not something we do. Period." – President Barack Obama, press conference, Monday, November 14, 2011.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Here is why Rick Perry wont withdraw from the race ... right away

I don't have to tell you about Rick Perry's debate gaffe. You already know about it.

But here is why he will wait a while before dropping out of the race:
Amount of fund raising: 17 million*.
Number of days in the presidential race so far: 80.

That's $212,000 per day.  He is likely to try to make that money stretch a little bit farther than that by staying in the race at least until he can send the obligatory Holiday family greeting card to all his supporters.   

I am not gloating or chortling ... because I don't have a dog in this hunt.  But I just find it ironic how much money can go down the drain so fast ... in tough economic times.  Did anybody do their due diligence before they threw their money at this guy?  Or is a handsome Governor from Texas just so "central casting" for Presidential timber at this point?

Note that a big gaffe wouldn't hurt a candidate like Ron Paul who has a long history of saying what he believes in coherent fashion and has a legion of true believers behind him.  But, Perry, who rode in on a white horse as if he were the savior of the GOP ...  this hurts big time!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Did Derek Holland Accidentally Call Down Cub Curse on Rangers?

The freak occurrence of the Texas Rangers blowing five leads in game six of the 2011 World Series and failing to beat the St. Louis Cardinals on two occasions in which they were one pitch away, has people quite rationally searching for supernatural causes, i.e. curses of various sorts. With the Santa Anna Curse having been buried last year with Texas's lone win of a World Series game against the Giants, suspicion turns naturally to one of the most virulent curses in baseball, the Cubs curse.

The Rangers, of all teams, should be unaffected by the Cubs curse.  They did not even exist as a franchise until 1961, 16 years after the Curse of the Billy Goat began.   Dallas is 800 miles away from the Windy City, and the Rangers prudently did not have even a single ex-Cub on their roster.

But this Cub curse was not present in any of the factors relating to the two teams squaring off in the world series of 2011, but was called down upon the Rangers by a Ranger player in the middle of game five shortly before the fateful game six.

In the middle of game five, quite out of the blue, Rangers pitcher Derek Holland, with the game in progress, appeared on national TV, performing a controversial live recitation of a "what if" scenario in which Harry Caray was cheering on the Rangers as a Rangers announcer, complete with a note-perfect Harry Caray voice.

As it turned out, Holland’s impersonation was so good, it even fooled the gods, who were stirred into action against the Rangers, assuming the announcer who spent the last 16-years of his life informing a national TV audience of Cubs disasters, was back in action.

Holland himself was part of the game six debacle, surrendering a home run to Allen Craig with the Rangers up by three runs with five outs to go.
A YouTube video of Holland's Caray impersonation during Game 5 is here.


Monday, October 10, 2011

A short history of St. Louis’ domination of Milwaukee

1764 St. Louis founded as fur-trading post.

1795 Milwaukee founded as fur-trading post.  But by 1830 over-hunting had exterminated fur-bearing mammals in Wisconsin.

1901 The eighth-place Milwaukee Brewers pack up and leave for St. Louis to become the St. Louis Browns.  The Browns vault into second place in the American League in 1902 and improve the team winning percentage from .350 to .574, after 110 years still the largest year-to-year percentage gain in AL history.

1955 The last-place Milwaukee Hawks pack up and leave for St. Louis.  Although while in Milwaukee the Hawks had never once made the playoffs, in St. Louis they make the playoffs six out of the next seven years  and 12 out of the next 13 (winning the NBA championship for the 1957-58 season.)

1982 The St. Louis Cardinals deny the Milwaukee Brewers their only World Series title in franchise history.

1996 Milwaukee loses its position as the Beer Capitol of America after 156 years to St. Louis

2011 Milwaukee, still lacking in fur-bearing mammals, attempts to battle the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs sans rally squirrel.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Browns, Senators and Philly A's 2011 baseball season: an analysis

Although the Baltimore Orioles closed out their 2011 campaign, and major league baseball's last-to-finish regular-season game last night, with a thrilling come-from-behind bottom of the ninth-inning victory in front of the home crowd against the proud Boston Red Sox, eliminating the latter from the postseason, the game also marked the 14th-straight losing season for the Orioles. The Orioles' predecessor, the St. Louis Browns, in all their losing glory, never racked up more than 12 straight losing seasons. Meanwhile, the defeated Red Sox were finishing up their 14th-straight winning season.

Interestingly, for fans of the Golden Age of baseball, a gander at the standings for 2011 reveals that little has changed in the American League constellation in the last 60 years. The Yankees are still on top with .600-winning-percentage dominance, followed by Detroit and Boston. The Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox are in the middle of the pack. And bringing up the bottom are the Oakland Athletics (nee Philadelphia), the Baltimore Orioles (St. Louis Browns) and finally the Minnesota Twins (nee Washington Senators) who finished 32 games out of the Central division race.

Just looking at the ten-year period from 1947 through 1956, which spans the Athletics' transfer to Kansas City and the Browns move to Baltimore, the three above-named franchises finished in the bottom three of the eight-team standings during that time-frame a startling 23/30 possible times.

As the French say, "Plus ça change, plus ça reste pareil". The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Even though major league baseball is financially a very different animal today than it was in the 40s and 50s, certain cities seem to command a better team on the field, then as now. Smaller cities do worse. Two team cities that could not support two teams, like Philadelphia and St. Louis, were especially poor competitors in the attendance and, hence, salary departments.

The "small city" analysis is even more trenchant when you look at the 2011 standings and see Seattle and Kansas City, both cities which have lost franchises and are from time-to-time the subject of rumors concerning repeating the feat, at the bottom alongside the "Senators, Browns and Athletics".

This is not to say the Twins, Athletics and Orioles haven't had some glory years in the last half-century … because they have. Just last year the Twins won the American League Central (although losing in the first round of the playoffs).

It is just that the perennial domination by the Yankees, Red Sox and (to a lesser extent) Tigers counterbalanced by the frustration of the Orioles, Twins and Athletics makes one wonder about laws of the universe, planetary alignments, etc. (One of the reasons that I've stayed an Orioles fan despite their ever-dwindling connection to St. Louis is because of the primordial need to pull against the Yankees and the Red Sox.)

The above recitation of seemingly cosmic failure does not make me one iota less a Baltimore Orioles fan. (As a longtime board member of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society, believe me, winning is not everything to me). It is just that, on the playgrounds of my youth, money had nothing to do with what team won a baseball game. It would be nice if major league baseball was a little more like that.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Caused the Final Death of the S.S. Admiral Today

The 5-deck steamer the S.S. Admiral is being towed to the scrap heap this morning. And my overwhelming feeling is sadness, profound sadness. But there is an analysis to be done here so I am going to roll up my sleeves and do it.

The Admiral was an art deco masterpiece. A river-cruising experience that St. Louis offered for decades that you couldn't get anywhere else in the world. My favorite of the five decks was the grand ballroom. I can still feel the air-conditioning hitting my body as I pushed into the ballroom through gold- and silver-studded leather swinging doors.

So, of course, the City Leaders are dropping the ball. This should prey upon the conscience of any City Leader of the last 35 years.

However, to be fair to said City Leaders, there were societal factors that precipitated its decline.

The one difference about the Admiral from other nightclubs and amusements was that even though there were anywhere from 2-4 thousand people on the boat at a time, you kind of got to know the the different groups of passengers by the end of the cruise. And if you got into a tiff with anyone (which sometimes happens with drinking), there was no GETTING OFF THE BOAT. You were stuck for four hours. Nor could the police *throw* someone off the boat. In addition, the boat was so huge, and had all that engine apparatus, ... therefore there were plenty of little nooks and crannies where "stuff" could happen. (Not liked the pre-laid out Nuremberg-like environment of today's concert halls like Riverport or the Pageant.)

Thus, when in the latter half of the 20th century there started to be fundamental disagreements about standards of dress, etiquette, profanity, tolerance of crime levels, drugs, etc., there were fewer and fewer people willing to commit to four hours on the boat with total strangers. Especially when you were being asked to pay a lot of money (which is what you really *ought* to pay for such a rich experience/plus what it must have actually cost the boat-owners to be able to maintain such a colossal ship).  The tidy sum that paid teh cost for a chancy Admiral experience could have paid for the cost of a consistent steak dinner at a land-bound restaurant.

Those of us who appreciated the utter beauty of the Admiral would have been happy to pay more, plus "deal" with our ship-mates come-what-may. But as for the vast majority of St. Louisans to whom the Admiral just a happy childhood memory, and who were ready to put off so-called "childish things", the freight was too much to bear.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Peabody Opera House at The Henry W. Kiel Auditorium

I don't like naming the old Kiel Opera house "Peabody" and especially don't like the use "The Peabody". "The Peabody" is the hotel in nearby Memphis with the ducks. It's also a Nashville college that merged with Vanderbilt. (Plus an Alex Chilton record label! (-: ).

The official name is "The Peabody Opera House at The Henry W. Kiel Auditorium" but "The Peabody" will be ultimately what it gets called because that's the way they call everything around St. Louis, for example, "The Touhill". I wish they had been more forthright and called it the Peabody *Energy* Opera House. But they tried to have it both ways (corporate yet swishy) ... and it just ends up being ... like a lot of things around St. Louis ... HOOSIER.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Industry Folks Dont Want To Commit on Rebecca Black.

I was listening to MJ morning show this morning and they had Simon Cowell on. MJ brought up Rebecca black but didn't ask Simon the key question: does he think she's good or horrible. There is this guy who is famous for saying people are horrible, how could MJ neglect to ask that question?. Unless Simon didn't want to be asked. Industry people don't want to commit to say she's good or bad. They want to "reserve all rights".

Meanwhile Radio's a Total Racket. And 'Friday' Proves It...

Rebecca Black = Duchamps.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rebecca Black: A WAY better than average pop song, and a revolution to boot

So like millions of others, I tuned into Rebecca Black's "Friday" expecting to hate it.

You know what: I didn't hate it. In fact I liked it way better than most of the "modern pop" that washes ashore on my already overloaded musical plate. Liked it way better than Gaga, Train, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry .. you name it. It is something that I will probably watch again. Why? The utter lack of star-pretension. The acting like she and her friends are having a good time without really acting. The guilelessness of it.

And the fact that it was done for $2000 has the makings of a revolution. Finally a technology/business model made for Youtube: pre-written songs that you stop in and record at a shopping mall and if you like the result you can get a music video cut for as low as $2000.

Then you wait for all the viral stuff to happen .. if it happens. There is already one of these places in St. Louis called StreetDreamz at St. Louis Mills.